An overstuffed melodrama that’s all bark and not much bite.

EVERY DARK CORNER

It’s sink or swim when two troubled, love-struck Cincinnati FBI agents dive headfirst into the choppy waters of a drug and child-pornography ring.

Special Agent Griffin “Decker” Davenport is in a coma after he was shot during an undercover sting of human traffickers, and Special Agent Kate Coppola, new to Cincinnati, has been sitting by his side. Sparks between the two fly as soon as he wakes up, and, along with a large team of investigators, they’re on the cusp of blowing a human (specifically children) trafficking ring wide open. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Mallory Martin dreams of escape from the monster that has kept her prisoner and who, when she was only 12, dubbed her Sunshine Suzie, forcing her to “perform” in porn films. There’s only one problem: her 9-year-old sister, Macy. The drug dealer and pornographer who calls himself the Professor warns Mallory that if she tries to escape, he’ll make sure Macy will be forced to do the same things as Mallory, and Mallory would rather die than see that happen. Agents Coppola and Davenport, along with a giant cast of characters, sift through the many (many) clues while the Professor, with the authorities closing in, starts tying up loose ends, including Agent Davenport. Rose (Alone in the Dark, 2016, etc.) explores the dark subject matter with sensitivity, but Kate and Decker’s love-at-first-sight attraction, though steamy, often descends into the silly: Decker frequently gets aroused by Kate just walking into the room. However, kudos should be given for a valiant attempt to round out so many characters. Long stretches of dialogue punctuated by mild action do not make a thrilling read, and new readers will be lost, but fans of the Cincinnati series will probably be happy to see the return of favorite characters. Even a truly vile bad guy can’t give this thriller a jolt.

An overstuffed melodrama that’s all bark and not much bite.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-58306-3

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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